Murphy's Law: If you take your normally gregarious, flirty, chatty, active, wiggly children into church or a movie they will not be able to contain themselves. However, if you take them somewhere and say "go for it, be yourselves, dance, sing, twirl....." they will sit down calmly with their hands folded for hours on end.
Today we went and participated with The Feel Alive Project . It was really very fun, and we plan to do it regularly. I don't think we added much today, but I hope we will in the future. I hadn't had the time to prepare the kids enough in advance, so they were a little shy today at first, although they did warm up right at the end. However, the whole way home they were dreaming up what they want to do and perform for next month. I had to explain twice that high wire walking wasn't practical. (can you tell we recently rented cirque de soliel?). Tomorrow we start narrowing it down and practicing.
This is really our most important adventure for this year, volunteerism. It has been so hard to find "hands on" volunteer opportunities for the family to do together. I mean, yes, we have always dropped off toys for tots, we have made blankets for Project Linus , cards for soldiers in Iraq, or turkey dinners and such; But there hasn't been an way for the kids to really SEE and interact with people. Its a more personal sort of giving. So I am very grateful to have found this project. Once we get over the inital shyness I think it will be a very good fit.
All of this is so important to me because I think volunteering shaped alot of my character, world views and really has alot to do with who I am today. I was raised in a family that jumped at the opportunity to volunteer (thanks mom and dad). We fed the homeless at St John's Church downtown each week, and it seemed like we always had someone living at our house for one reason or another. My parents taught me charity as a very casual, normal part of life. Isn't everyone supposed to be doing something to leave the world a little better than they found it? All of these opportunities also taught me something else, that we are a whole lot more alike than we are different. I think alot of people take comfort in seeing people as "other" and not like them. But we are all just a few decades away from being elderly, a few wrong turns and any of us could need help or a home.
Charity doesn't just run one way either. I got, and still get just as much out of helping others as whatever it is I am bringing to the table. I learned more about myself good and bad through giving of myself. As a kid, I understood how lucky I was, I had seen real poverty both here in the US and abroad (we did missions trips). I remember feeling very lucky and almost guilty at times for what we had when I saw what others lacked. Don't get me wrong, I was a pretty normal kid, and I could open a can of pout over blue jeans. But I had this as a reference point.
I want my kids to have these same advantages. And more than my selfish desires for them, I feel that I wouldn't be doing my job as a parent if I didn't instill in my children a sense of service to their fellow man, love for the entire rest of the world, and social justice.
Okay this last part is my personal rant..... avert your eyes.....
The only thing I ever saw in volunteering that I didn't like was when certain organizations would come in to feed the homeless and hungry, but would make them listen to a sermon BEFORE they would feed them. That bothered me. If you are hungry and I have food, Im going to give it to you. Whether you want to listen to me chatter or not, regardless of whether we are the same relgion or you want to convert, I will feed you because you are another human being on this rock with me and I have the means to feed you. I just think it is a moral obligation. Plus, I mean, if your sermonizing is so lacking that you have to hold hungry people hostage to listen to you..... perhaps you should take a class or something, to make you more interesting. Just a thought......